County Commission Claims Legislature’s Handling of Budget is “Disgusting”

In a moment of on-record candor, the Griggs County Commission blast the North Dakota Legislature for their handling of the state’s budget. Offering their disapproval during a discussion of NDSU Extension Services funding, the biannual budgeting was described as “disgusting” by one County Commissioner. Because of the state budget cuts, county governments are being forced to pay more of the tab or cut services.

The NDSU Extension budget was cut approximately $4.1 million during this year’s Legislative session. The changes would have the counties pick up more of the funding. As a result, they are looking for ways to fund current services or consolidate with other counties. The discussion turned from flexibility into an overall criticism of the Legislature.

Every time we turn around, there’s money missing that used to be there that came from the state…this is just the start of it.

The Legislature meets every two years and sets the budget. That budget has become increasingly more reliant on volatile commodities, oil and agriculture. Past attempts to study the budget and diminish reliance on volatile commodities have been rejected. Commissioners went on to suggest the Legislature meet annually instead of biannually to craft their budget. Just like past attempts to study the budget, previous attempts to change the session schedule have been rejected by the Legislature.

The way it looks, they should meet annually with a whole different crew of people. I mean, if you hired someone to take care of your assets and they did this poor of a job of it, you wouldn’t have them back again…Disgusting.

Those are strong words from elected officials at the local level. The frustration isn’t isolated to Griggs County. I’ve heard from other county and city officials who are angry at not only how the state budgets, but also the unfunded mandates and stipulations the Legislature places on them. This is the first instance I’m aware of where the criticism was done on the record and at an official county meeting.

The NDSU Extension budget started this on-record conversation. Other concerns I’ve heard across the state is the closing of rural DOT maintenance shops, rural ambulance grant changes, and the Legislature eliminating the 12% property tax buy down.

The Commission jokes that the way to turn over seats in the Legislature is to take away their fully funded health insurance and close the Peacock Alley (a bar and restaurant where lobbyists buy legislators drinks). I’d suggest people learn who their legislators are and press them to do a better job. If they’re incapable of representing the district, then vote them out.

I have trimmed the above audio to focus on the two-minute discussion focused on the County’s frustration with the Legislature. The full hour and a half meeting can be heard here

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